'Go home': LGBTQ members greeted by angry shouts at Ford Fest
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was greeted by throngs of supporters at Ford Fest on Friday, an event that also drew a small group of LGBTQ protesters who were met with angry shouts to "go home."
Poe Liberado, an LGBTQ community organizer who attended the event with a handful of protesters carrying rainbow flags and signs that called for the mayor’s departure from office, said the reception they received at Ford Fest was "really hateful."
"We are just here and this is sort of the response (we received). We are told to go home, we are told ‘Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’ and other hateful slurs," Liberado told CP24 Friday evening.
Some of the protesters said their signs were stolen or destroyed and one person said he was assaulted.
When asked about the heated exchange, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s brother Coun. Doug Ford disapproved of the behaviour, saying the barbecue is a "family" event where everyone is invited.
"Everyone is here with their family and friends, to have family time and that's what I encourage," Ford told CP24. "Everyone is welcome here, including Karen Stintz and the rest of them."
Earlier on Friday, Rob Ford was greeted by a crush of supporters as he arrived at Ford Fest,
This year's bash was alcohol free after a liquor license application was rejected by the province. Ford's campaign team was also not allowed to campaign during the barbecue.
According to city bylaw rules, public spaces, including parks, civic squares and other facilities, cannot be used for promotion by candidates or political parties during an election.
Ford has previously said that the barbecue has nothing to do with politics, explaining that it is his family’s way of "giving back" to the community. Some Toronto residents, however, say that Ford Fest is a poorly disguised campaign event. More than 100 people have filed a complaint to city hall about the barbecue, accusing the Ford family of breaking a bylaw.
Friday's event was attended by three city park staff members and three by-law enforcement officers watching for signs of campaigning from anyone in Ford's entourage.
The campaign ban, however, did not prevent "Ford Nation" flags from flying at the barbecue. They were being handed out by Ford Fest volunteers as attendees waited in line to enter the event. The first thousand guests were given free Ford Nation T-shirts – something the event organizers said is within the rules of the no politicking rule. Those T-shirts and flags would only be in violation of the no-campaigning rule if they said "vote" or "re-elect" Rob Ford.
Previous Ford Fests, including those that have taken place during election years, were held at the family's home in Etobicoke and therefore the campaign ban was not in effect.
Ford's rivals make an appearance
While the majority of the Ford Fest attendees were supporters of the mayor, his rivals, including Karen Stintz made an appearance on Friday. She arrived at the barbecue wearing a "Karen Stintz for mayor" T-shirt, which she said was not a form of campaigning.
"I'm just saying hi to people," the mayoral hopeful told CTV Toronto. "It’s just a T-shirt."
And Sarah Thomson, another mayoral candidate, also showed up at the barbecue. The Women’s Post publisher -- who rode up to city hall in a horse-drawn carriage in March when she filed her paperwork to join the mayoral race – arrived on horseback at Ford Fest. She was booed at the event and left.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson